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Religio Medici, Hydriotaphia, and the Letter to a Friend, by Sir Thomas Browne

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expiration; and his end not unlike his beginning, when
the salient point scarce affords a sensible motion, and
his departure so like unto sleep, that he scarce needed
the civil ceremony of closing his eyes; contrary unto the
common way, wherein death draws up, sleep lets fall

* "Cum mors venerit, in medio Tibure Sardinia est."
+ In the king's forests they set the figure of a broad arrow
upon trees that are to be cut down.
# Bellonius de Avibus.

the eyelids. With what strife and pains we came into
the world we know not; but 'tis commonly no easy
matter to get out of it: yet if it could be made out,
that such who have easy nativities have commonly hard
deaths, and contrarily; his departure was so easy, that
we might justly suspect his birth was of another nature,
and that some Juno sat cross-legged at his nativity.

Besides his soft death, the incurable state of his
disease might somewhat extenuate your sorrow, who
know that monsters but seldom happen, miracles more
rarely in physick.* Angelus Victorius gives a serious
account of a consumptive, hectical, phthisical woman,
who was suddenly cured by the intercession of Ignatius.
We read not of any in Scripture who in this case applied
unto our Saviour, though some may be contained in
that large expression, that he went about Galilee healing
all manner of sickness and all manner of diseases.+
Amulets, spells, sigils, and incantations, practised in
other diseases, are seldom pretended in this; and we
find no sigil in the Archidoxis of Paracelsus to cure
an extreme consumption or marasmus, which, if other
diseases fail, will put a period unto long livers, and at
last makes dust of all. And therefore the Stoics could
not but think that the fiery principle would wear out
all the rest, and at last make an end of the world, which
notwithstanding without such a lingering period the
Creator may effect at his pleasure: and to make an end
of all things on earth, and our planetical system of the
world, he need but put out the sun.

I was not so curious to entitle the stars unto any
concern of his death, yet could not but take notice that

* "Monstra contingunt in medicina." Hippoc.--"Strange
and rare escapes there happen sometimes in physick."
+ Matt. iv. 23.

he died when the moon was in motion from the meri-
dian; at which time an old Italian long ago would per-
suade me that the greatest part of men died: but herein
I confess I could never satisfy my curiosity; although
from the time of tides in places upon or near the sea,
there may be considerable deductions; and Pliny* hath
an odd and remarkable passage concerning the death of
men and animals upon the recess or ebb of the sea.
However, certain it is, he died in the dead and deep
part of the night, when Nox might be most apprehen-
sibly said to be the daughter of Chaos, the mother of
sleep and death, according to old genealogy; and so
went out of this world about that hour when our blessed
Saviour entered it, and about what time many conceive
he will return again unto it. Cardan<3> hath a peculiar
and no hard observation from a man's hand to know
whether he was born in the day or night, which I con-
fess holdeth in my own. And Scaliger<4> to that purpose
hath another from the tip of the ear:+ most men are
begotten in the night, animals in the day; but whether
more persons have been born in the night or day, were
a curiosity undecidable, though more have perished by
violent deaths in the day; yet in natural dissolutions
both times may hold an indifferency, at least but con-
tingent inequality. The whole course of time runs out
in the nativity and death of things; which whether
they happen by succession or coincidence, are best com-
puted by the natural, not artificial day.

* "Aristoteles nullum animal nisi aestu recedente expirare
affirmat; observatum id multum in Gallico Oceano et duntaxat
in homine compertum," lib. 2, cap. 101.

+ "Auris pars pendula lobus dicitur, non omnibus ea pars,
est auribus; non enim iis qui noctu sunt, sed qui interdiu,
maxima ex parte."--Com. in Aristot. de Animal. lib. 1.

That Charles the Fifth<5> was crowned upon the day
of his nativity, it being in his own power so to order
it, makes no singular animadversion: but that he
should also take King Francis<6> prisoner upon that
day, was an unexpected coincidence, which made the
same remarkable. Antipater, who had an anniversary
feast every year upon his birth-day, needed no astro-
logical revolution to know what day he should die on.
When the fixed stars have made a revolution unto the
points from whence they first set out, some of the
ancients thought the world would have an end; which
was a kind of dying upon the day of its nativity. Now
the disease prevailing and swiftly advancing about the
time of his nativity, some were of opinion that he
would leave the world on the day he entered into it;
but this being a lingering disease, and creeping softly
on, nothing critical was found or expected, and he died
not before fifteen days after. Nothing is more common
with infants than to die on the day of their nativity, to
behold the worldly hours, and but the fractions thereof;
and even to perish before their nativity in the hidden
world of the womb, and before their good angel is con-
ceived to undertake them. But in persons who out-
live many years, and when there are no less than three
hundred and sixty-five days to determine their lives in
every year; that the first day should make the last,
that the tail of the snake should return into its mouth
precisely at that time, and they should wind up upon
the day of their nativity, is indeed a remarkable
coincidence, which, though astrology hath taken witty
pains to salve, yet hath it been very wary in making
predictions of it.*

In this consumptive condition and remarkable exten-

* According to the Egyptian hieroglyphic.

uation, he came to be almost half himself, and left a
great part behind him, which he carried not to the
grave. And though that story of Duke John Ernestus
Mansfield<7>* be not so easily swallowed, that at his death
his heart was found not to be so big as a nut; yet if
the bones of a good skeleton weigh little more than
twenty pounds, his inwards and flesh remaining could
make no bouffage,<8> but a light bit for the grave. I
never more lively beheld the starved characters of
Dante+ in any living face; an aruspex might have read
a lecture upon him without exenteration, his flesh
being so consumed, that he might, in a manner, have
discerned his bowels without opening of him; so that
to be carried, sexta cervice# to the grave, was but a
civil unnecessity; and the complements of the coffin
might outweigh the subject of it.

Omnibonus Ferrarius in mortal dysenteries of chil-
dren looks for a spot behind the ear; in consumptive
diseases some eye the complexion of moles; Cardan
eagerly views the nails, some the lines of the hand, the
thenar or muscle of the thumb; some are so curious as
to observe the depth of the throat-pit, how the pro-
portion varieth of the small of the legs unto the calf,
or the compass of the neck unto the circumference of
the head; but all these, with many more, were so
drowned in a mortal visage, and last face of Hippocra-
tes, that a weak physiognomist might say at first eye, this
was a face of earth, and that Morta$ had set her hard seal
upon his temples, easily perceiving what caricatura||

* Turkish history.
+ In the poet Dante's description.
# i.e. "by six persons."
$ Morta, the deity of death or fate.
|| When men's faces are drawn with resemblance to some
other animals, the Italians call it, to be drawn in caricatura.

draughts death makes upon pined faces, and unto what
an unknown degree a man may live backward.

Though the beard be only made a distinction of sex,
and sign of masculine heat by Ulmus,* yet the
precocity and early growth thereof in him, was not
to be liked in reference unto long life. Lewis,
that virtuous but unfortunate king of Hungary,
who lost his life at the battle of Mohacz,<9> was
said to be born without a skin, to have bearded at
fifteen, and to have shown some grey hairs about
twenty; from whence the diviners conjectured that he
would be spoiled of his kingdom, and have but a short
life; but hairs make fallible predictions, and many
temples early grey have outlived the psalmist's period.+
Hairs which have most amused me have not been in the
face or head, but on the back, and not in men but
children, as I long ago observed in that endemial
distemper of children in Languedoc, called the mor-
,# wherein they critically break out with harsh
hairs on their backs, which takes off the unquiet symp-
toms of the disease, and delivers them from coughs and
The Egyptian mummies that I have seen, have had
their mouths open, and somewhat gaping, which afford-
eth a good opportunity to view and observe their teeth,
wherein 'tis not easy to find any wanting or decayed;
and therefore in Egypt, where one man practised but
one operation, or the diseases but of single parts, it
must needs be a barren profession to confine unto that of
drawing of teeth, and to have been little better than tooth-

* Ulmus de usu barbae humanae.
+ The life of man is threescore and ten.
# See Picotus de Rheumatismo.

drawer unto King Pyrrhus,* who had but two in his head.

How the banyans of India maintain the integrity of
those parts, I find not particularly observed; who not-
withstanding have an advantage of their preservation by
abstaining from all flesh, and employing their teeth in
such food unto which they may seem at first framed,
from their figure and conformation; but sharp and
corroding rheums had so early mouldered these rocks
and hardest parts of his fabric, that a man might well
conceive that his years were never like to double or
twice tell over his teeth.+ Corruption had dealt more
severely with them than sepulchral fires and smart
flames with those of burnt bodies of old; for in the
burnt fragments of urns which I have inquired into,
although I seem to find few incisors or shearers, yet the
dog teeth and grinders do notably resist those fires.

In the years of his childhood he had languished
under the disease of his country, the rickets; after
which, notwithstanding many have become strong and
active men; but whether any have attained unto very
great years, the disease is scarce so old as to afford good
observation. Whether the children of the English
plantations be subject unto the same infirmity, may be
worth the observing. Whether lameness and halting do
still increase among the inhabitants of Rovigno in Istria,
I know not; yet scarce twenty years ago Monsieur du
Loyr observed that a third part of that people halted;
but too certain it is, that the rickets increaseth among
us; the small-pox grows more pernicious than the great;
the king's purse knows that the king's evil grows more
common. Quartan agues are become no strangers in

* His upper jaw being solid, and without distinct rows of teeth.
+ Twice tell over his teeth, never live to threescore years.

Ireland; more common and mortal in England; and
though the ancients gave that disease* very good words,
yet now that bell+ makes no strange sound which rings
out for the effects thereof.

Some think there were few consumptions in the old
world, when men lived much upon milk; and that the
ancient inhabitants of this island were less troubled
with coughs when they went naked and slept in caves
and woods, than men now in chambers and feather-beds.
Plato will tell us, that there was no such disease as a
catarrh in Homer's time, and that it was but new in
Greece in his age. Polydore Virgil delivereth that
pleurisies were rare in England, who lived but in the
days of Henry the Eighth. Some will allow no diseases
to be new, others think that many old ones are ceased:
and that such which are esteemed new, will have but
their time: however, the mercy of God hath scattered
the great heap of diseases, and not loaded any one
country with all: some may be new in one country
which have been old in another. New discoveries of
the earth discover new diseases: for besides the common
swarm, there are endemial and local infirmities proper
unto certain regions, which in the whole earth make no
small number: and if Asia, Africa, and America, should
bring in their list, Pandora's box would swell, and there
must be a strange pathology.

Most men expected to find a consumed kell,<10> empty
and bladder-like guts, livid and marbled lungs, and a
withered pericardium in this exsuccous corpse: but some
seemed too much to wonder that two lobes of his lungs
adhered unto his side; for the like I have often found

* [Greek omitted], securissima et facillima.--
+ Pro febre quartana raro sonat campana.

in bodies of no suspected consumptions or difficulty of
respiration. And the same more often happeneth in
men than other animals: and some think in women
than in men: but the most remarkable I have met
with, was in a man, after a cough of almost fifty years,
in whom all the lobes adhered unto the pleura, and
each lobe unto another; who having also been much
troubled with the gout, brake the rule of Cardan,* and
died of the stone in the bladder. Aristotle makes a
query, why some animals cough, as man; some not, as
oxen. If coughing be taken as it consisteth of a
natural and voluntary motion, including expectoration
and spitting out, it may be as proper unto man as
bleeding at the nose; otherwise we find that Vegetius
and rural writers have not left so many medicines in vain
against the coughs of cattle; and men who perish by
coughs die the death of sheep, cats, and lions: and
though birds have no midriff, yet we meet with divers
remedies in Arrianus against the coughs of hawks.
And though it might be thought that all animals who
have lungs do cough; yet in cataceous* fishes, who have
large and strong lungs, the same is not observed; nor
yet in oviparous quadrupeds: and in the greatest
thereof, the crocodile, although we read much of their
tears, we find nothing of that motion.

From the thoughts of sleep, when the soul was con-
ceived nearest unto divinity, the ancients erected an
art of divination, wherein while they too widely ex-
patiated in loose and in consequent conjectures, Hippo-
crates+ wisely considered dreams as they presaged

* Cardan in his Encomium Podagrae reckoneth this among
the Dona Podagrae, that they are delivered thereby from the
phthisis and stone in the bladder.
+ Hippoc, de Insomniis

alterations in the body, and so afforded hints toward
the preservation of health, and prevention of diseases;
and therein was so serious as to advise alteration of
diet, exercise, sweating, bathing, and vomiting; and
also so religious as to order prayers and supplications
unto respective deities, in good dreams unto Sol,
Jupiter coelestis, Jupiter opulentus, Minerva, Mer-
curius, and Apollo; in bad, unto Tellus and the

And therefore I could not but notice how his female
friends were irrationally curious so strictly to examine
his dreams, and in this low state to hope for the
phantasms of health. He was now past the healthful
dreams of the sun, moon, and stars, in their clarity and
proper courses. 'Twas too late to dream of flying, of
limpid fountains, smooth waters, white vestments, and
fruitful green trees, which are the visions of healthful
sleeps, and at good distance from the grave.
And they were also too deeply dejected that he should
dream of his dead friends, inconsequently divining, that
he would not be long from them; for strange it was not
that he should sometimes dream of the dead, whose
thoughts run always upon death; beside, to dream of
the dead, so they appear not in dark habits, and take
nothing away from us, in Hippocrates' sense was of good
signification: for we live by the dead, and everything
is or must be so before it becomes our nourishment.
And Cardan, who dreamed that he discoursed with his
dead father in the moon, made thereof no mortal in-
terpretation; and even to dream that we are dead, was
having a signification of liberty, vacuity from cares,
exemption and freedom from troubles unknown unto
the dead.
Some dreams I confess may admit of easy and femi-
nine exposition; he who dreamed that he could not see
his right shoulder, might easily fear to lose the sight of
his right eye; he that before a journey dreamed that
his feet were cut off, had a plain warning not to under-
take his intended journey. But why to dream of lettuce
should presage some ensuing disease, why to eat figs
should signify foolish talk, why to eat eggs great trouble,
and to dream of blindness should be so highly com-
mended, according to the oneirocritical verses of As-
trampsychus and Nicephorus, I shall leave unto your
He was willing to quit the world alone and altogether,
leaving no earnest behind him for corruption or after-
grave, having small content in that common satisfaction
to survive or live in another, but amply satisfied that
his disease should die with himself, nor revive in a pos-
terity to puzzle physic, and make sad mementoes of their
parent hereditary. Leprosy awakes not sometimes before
forty, the gout and stone often later; but consumptive
and tabid* roots sprout more early, and at the fairest
make seventeen years of our life doubtful before that
age. They that enter the world with original diseases
as well as sin, have not only common mortality but sick
traductions to destroy them, make commonly short
courses, and live not at length but in figures; so that a
sound Caesarean nativity+ may outlast a natural birth,
and a knife may sometimes make way for a more last-
ing fruit than a midwife; which makes so few infants
now able to endure the old test of the river,# and many

* Tabes maxime contingunt ab anno decimo octavo and trigesi
mum quintum.--Hippoc.
+ A sound child cut out of the body of the mother.
# Natos ad flumina primum deferimus saevoque gelu dura
mus et undis.

to have feeble children who could scarce have been mar-
ried at Sparta, and those provident states who studied
strong and healthful generations; which happen but
contingently in mere pecuniary matches or marriages
made by the candle, wherein notwithstanding there is
little redress to be hoped from an astrologer or a lawyer,
and a good discerning physician were like to prove the
most successful counsellor.

Julius Scaliger, who in a sleepless fit of the gout could
make two hundred verses in a night, would have but
five* plain words upon his tomb. And this serious per-
son, though no minor wit, left the poetry of his epitaph
unto others; either unwilling to commend himself, or
to be judged by a distich, and perhaps considering how
unhappy great poets have been in versifying their own
epitaphs; wherein Petrarch, Dante, and Ariosto, have
so unhappily failed, that if their tombs should outlast
their works, posterity would find so little of Apollo on
them as to mistake them for Ciceronian poets.

In this deliberate and creeping progress unto the
grave, he was somewhat too young and of too noble a
mind, to fall upon that stupid symptom observable in
divers persons near their journey's end, and which may
be reckoned among the mortal symptoms of their last
disease; that is, to become more narrow-minded, miser-
able, and tenacious, unready to part with anything,
when they are ready to part with all, and afraid to want
when they have no time to spend; meanwhile physi-
cians, who know that many are mad but in a single
depraved imagination, and one prevalent decipiency;
and that beside and out of such single deliriums a man
may meet with sober actions and good sense in bedlam;

* Julii Caesaris Scaligeri quod fuit.--Joseph. Scaliger in vita

cannot but smile to see the heirs and concerned relations
gratulating themselves on the sober departure of their
friends; and though they behold such mad covetous
passages, content to think they die in good understand-
ing, and in their sober senses.

Avarice, which is not only infidelity, but idolatry,
either from covetous progeny or questuary<11> education,
had no root in his breast, who made good works the
expression of his faith, and was big with desires unto
public and lasting charities; and surely where good
wishes and charitable intentions exceed abilities, theori-
cal beneficency may be more than a dream. They build
not castles in the air who would build churches on
earth; and though they leave no such structures here,
may lay good foundations in heaven. In brief, his life
and death were such, that I could not blame them who
wished the like, and almost to have been himself;
almost, I say; for though we may wish the prosperous
appurtenances of others, or to be another in his happy
accidents, yet so intrinsical is every man unto himself,
that some doubt may be made, whether any would
exchange his being, or substantially become another

He had wisely seen the world at home and abroad,
and thereby observed under what variety men are de-
luded in the pursuit of that which is not here to be
found. And although he had no opinion of reputed
felicities below, and apprehended men widely out in the
estimate of such happiness, yet his sober contempt of the
world wrought no Democratism or Cynicism, no laugh-
ing or snarling at it, as well understanding there are not
felicities in this world to satisfy a serious mind; and
therefore, to soften the stream of our lives, we are fain
to take in the reputed contentations of this world, to
unite with the crowd in their beatitudes, and to make
ourselves happy by consortion, opinion, and co-existi-
mation; for strictly to separate from received and cus-
tomary felicities, and to confine unto the rigour of
realities, were to contract the consolation of our beings
unto too uncomfortable circumscriptions.

Not to fear death,* nor desire it, was short of his re-
solution: to be dissolved, and be with Christ, was his
dying ditty. He conceived his thread long, in no long
course of years, and when he had scarce outlived the
second life of Lazarus;+ esteeming it enough to approach
the years of his Saviour, who so ordered his own human
state, as not to be old upon earth.

But to be content with death may be better than to
desire it; a miserable life may make us wish for death,
but a virtuous one to rest in it; which is the advantage
of those resolved Christians, who looking on death not
only as the sting, but the period and end of sin, the
horizon and isthmus between this life and a better, and
the death of this world but as a nativity of another,
do contentedly submit unto the common necessity, and
envy not Enoch or Elias.

Not to be content with life is the unsatisfactory state
of those who destroy themselves,# who being afraid to
live run blindly upon their own death, which no man
fears by experience: and the Stoics had a notable doc-

* Summum nec metuas diem nec optes.
+ Who upon some accounts, and tradition, is said to have
lived thirty years after he was raised by our Saviour.--
# In the speech of Vulteius in Lucan, animating his soldiers
in a great struggle to kill one another.--"Decernite lethum,
et metus omnis abest, cupias quodcunque necesse est." "All
fear is over, do but resolve to die, and make your desires meet

trine to take away the fear thereof; that is, in such ex-
tremities, to desire that which is not to be avoided, and
wish what might be feared; and so made evils voluntary,
and to suit with their own desires, which took off the
terror of them.

But the ancient martyrs were not encouraged by such
fallacies; who, though they feared not death, were afraid
to be their own executioners; and therefore thought it
more wisdom to crucify their lusts than their bodies, to
circumcise than stab their hearts, and to mortify than
kill themselves.

His willingness to leave this world about that age,
when most men think they may best enjoy it, though
paradoxical unto worldly ears, was not strange unto
mine, who have so often observed, that many, though
old, oft stick fast unto the world, and seem to be drawn
like Cacus's oxen<12>, backward, with great struggling and
reluctancy unto the grave. The long habit of living
makes mere men more hardly to part with life, and all
to be nothing, but what is to come. To live at the rate
of the old world, when some could scarce remember
themselves young, may afford no better digested death
than a more moderate period. Many would have
thought it an happiness to have had their lot of life
in some notable conjunctures of ages past; but the
uncertainty of future times have tempted few to make
a part in ages to come. And surely, he that hath taken
the true altitude of things, and rightly calculated the
degenerate state of this age, is not like to envy those
that shall live in the next, much less three or four hun-
dred years hence, when no man can comfortably imagine
what face this world will carry: and therefore since
every age makes a step unto the end of all things, and
the Scripture affords so hard a character of the last
times; quiet minds will be content with their genera-
tions, and rather bless ages past, than be ambitious of
those to come.

Though age had set no seal upon his face, yet a dim
eye might clearly discover fifty in his actions; and
therefore, since wisdom is the grey hair, and an un-
spotted life old age; although his years come short, he
might have been said to have held up with longer
livers, and to have been Solomon's* old man. And
surely if we deduct all those days of our life which
we might wish unlived, and which abate the comfort of
those we now live; if we reckon up only those days
which God hath accepted of our lives, a life of good
years will hardly be a span long: the son in this sense
may outlive the father, and none be climacterically
old. He that early arriveth unto the parts and pru-
dence of age, is happily old without the uncomfortable
attendants of it; and 'tis superfluous to live unto grey
hairs, when in precocious temper we anticipate the
virtues of them. In brief, he cannot be accounted
young who outliveth the old man. He that hath early
arrived unto the measure of a perfect stature in Christ,
hath already fulfilled the prime and longest inten-
tion of his being; and one day lived after the perfect
rule of piety, is to be preferred before sinning immor-

Although he attained not unto the years of his prede-
cessors, yet he wanted not those preserving virtues
which confirm the thread of weaker constitutions. Cau-
chastity and crafty sobriety were far from him;
those jewels were paragon, without flaw, hair, ice, or
cloud in him; which affords me a hint to proceed in
these good wishes, and few mementoes unto you.

* Wisdom, cap. iv.

Tread softly and circumspectly in this funambulous<13>
track and narrow path of goodness; pursue virtue
virtuously, be sober and temperate, not to preserve your
body in a sufficiency for wanton ends, not to spare your
purse, not to be free from the infamy of common trans-
gressors that way, and thereby to balance or palliate
obscure and closer vices, nor simply to enjoy health, by
all of which you may leaven good actions, and render
virtues disputable, but, in one word, that you may truly
serve God, which every sickness will tell you you cannot
well do without health. The sick man's sacrifice is but
a lame oblation. Pious treasures, laid up in healthful
days, excuse the defect of sick non-performance; without
which we must needs look back with anxiety upon the
last opportunities of health; and may have cause rather
to envy than pity the ends of penitent malefactors, who
go with clear parts unto the last act of their lives, and
in the integrity of their faculties return their spirit unto
God that gave it.

Consider whereabouts thou art in Cebe's<14> table, or
that old philosophical pinax<15> of the life of man;
whether thou art still in the road of uncertainties;
whether thou hast yet entered the narrow gate, got up
the hill and asperous way which leadeth unto the house
of sanity; or taken that purifying potion from the hand
of sincere erudition, which may send thee clear and pure
away unto a virtuous and happy life.

In this virtuous voyage let no disappointment cause
despondency, nor difficulty despair. Think not that
you are sailing from Lima to Manilla,* <16> wherein
thou mayest tie up the rudder, and sleep before the
wind, but expect rough seas, flaws and contrary blasts;

* Through the Pacifick Sea with a constant gale from the east.

and 'tis well if by many cross tacks and veerings thou
arrivest at the port. Sit not down in the popular
seats and common level of virtues, but endeavour to
make them heroical. Offer not only peace-offerings but
holocausts unto God. To serve him singly to serve our-
selves were too partial a piece of piety, not like to place
us in the highest mansions of glory.

He that is chaste and continent not to impair his
strength or terrified by contagion will hardly be heroically
virtuous. Adjourn not that virtue until those years
when Cato could lend out his wife, and impotent satyrs
write satires against lust, but be chaste in thy flaming
days when Alexander dared not trust his eyes upon the
fair sisters of Darius, and when so many think that
there is no other way but Origen's.*

Be charitable before wealth make thee covetous, and
lose not the glory of the mitre. If riches increase, let
thy mind hold pace with them, and think it is not
enough to be liberal but munificent. Though a cup of
cold water from some hand may not be without its
reward, yet stick not thou for wine and oil for the
wounds of the distressed, and treat the poor as our
Saviour did the multitude to the reliques of some

Trust not unto the omnipotency of gold, or say not
unto it, thou art my confidence. Kiss not thy hand
when thou beholdest that terrestrial sun, nor bore thy
ear unto its servitude. A slave unto Mammon makes
no servant unto God. Covetousness cracks the sinews
of faith, numbs the apprehension of anything above
sense; and only affected with the certainty of things
present, makes a peradventure of things to come; lives
but unto one world, nor hopes but fears another: makes

* Who is said to have castrated himself.

their own death sweet unto others, bitter unto them-
selves, brings formal sadness, scenical mourning, and
no wet eyes at the grave.

If avarice be thy vice, yet make it not thy punish-
ment. Miserable men commiserate not themselves,
bowelless unto themselves, and merciless unto their
own bowels. Let the fruition of things bless the
possession of them, and take no satisfaction in dying
but living rich. For since thy good works, not thy
goods will follow thee; since riches are an appurtenance
of life, and no dead man is rich, to famish in plenty,
and live poorly to die rich, were a multiplying im-
provement in madness and use upon use in folly.

Persons lightly dipt, not grained, in generous honesty
are but pale in goodness and faint-hued in sincerity.
But be thou what thou virtuously art, and let not the
ocean wash away thy tincture. Stand majestically upon
that axis where prudent simplicity hath fixed thee;
and at no temptation invert the poles of thy honesty
that vice may be uneasy and even monstrous unto
thee; let iterated good acts and long confirmed habits
make virtue natural or a second nature in thee; and since
few or none prove eminently virtuous but from some
advantageous foundations in their temper and natural
inclinations, study thyself betimes, and early find what
nature bids thee to be or tells thee what thou mayest
be. They who thus timely descend into themselves,
cultivating the good seeds which nature hath set in them,
and improving their prevalent inclinations to perfection,
become not shrubs but cedars in their generation. And
to be in the form of the best of bad, or the worst of the
good, will be no satisfaction unto them.

Let not the law of thy country be the non ultra of
thy honesty, nor think that always good enough that
the law will make good. Narrow not the law of
charity, equity, mercy. Join gospel righteousness with
legal right. Be not a mere Gamaliel in the faith, but
let the Sermon on the Mount be thy Targum unto the
law of Sinai.

Make not the consequences of virtue the ends
thereof. Be not beneficent for a name or cymbal
of applause; nor exact and punctual in commerce for
the advantages of trust and credit, which attend the
reputation of just and true dealing: for such rewards,
though unsought for, plain virtue will bring with her,
whom all men honour, though they pursue not. To
have other by-ends in good actions sours laudable
performances, which must have deeper roots, motives,
and instigations, to give them the stamp of virtues.

Though human infirmity may betray thy heedless
days into the popular ways of extravagancy, yet, let
not thine own depravity or the torrent of vicious times
carry thee into desperate enormities in opinions, manners,
or actions. If thou hast dipped thy foot in the river,
yet venture not over Rubicon; run not into extremities
from whence there is no regression, nor be ever so closely
shut up within the holds of vice and iniquity, as not
to find some escape by a postern of recipiscency.<17>

Owe not thy humility unto humiliation by adversity,
but look humbly down in that state when others look
upward upon thee. Be patient in the age of pride,
and days of will, and impatiency, when men live but by
intervals of reason, under the sovereignty of humour and
passion, when it is in the power of every one to trans-
form thee out of thyself, and put thee into short mad-
ness.* If you cannot imitate Job, yet come not short of
Socrates,<18> and those patient Pagans, who tired the

* Irae furor brevis est.

tongues of their enemies, while they perceived they
spit their malice at brazen walls and statues.

Let age, not envy, draw wrinkles on thy cheeks; be
content to be envied, but envy not. Emulation may be
plausible, and indignation allowable, but admit no treaty
with that passion which no circumstance can make
good. A displacency at the good of others, because
they enjoy it although we do not want it, is an absurd
depravity sticking fast unto nature, from its primitive
corruption, which he that can well subdue were a
Christian of the first magnitude, and for ought I know
may have one foot already in heaven.

While thou so hotly disclaimest the devil, be not
guilty of Diabolism. Fall not into one name with that
unclean spirit, nor act his nature whom thou so much
abhorrest, that is, to accuse, calumniate, backbite,
whisper, detract, or sinistrously interpret others. Degen-
erous depravities and narrow-minded vices! not only
below St Paul's noble Christian, but Aristotle's true gen-
tleman.* Trust not with some that the Epistle of St
James is apocryphal, and so read with less fear that
stabbing truth that in company with this vice, "thy
religion is in vain." Moses broke the tables without
breaking the law, but where charity is broke the law
itself is shattered, which cannot be whole without love
that is "the fulfilling of it." Look humbly upon thy
virtues, and though thou art rich in some, yet think
thyself poor and naked without that crowning grace
which "thinketh no evil, which envieth not, which
beareth, believeth, hopeth, endureth all things."
With these sure graces while busy tongues are crying
out for a drop of cold water, mutes may be in happi-
ness, and sing the "Trisagium,"+ in heaven.

* See Aristotle's Ethics, chapter Magnanimity.
+ Holy, holy, holy.

Let not the sun in Capricorn* go down upon thy
wrath, but write thy wrongs in water, draw the curtain
of night upon injuries, shut them up in the tower of
oblivion,+ and let them be as though they had not been.
Forgive thine enemies totally, without any reserve of
hope that however God will revenge thee.

Be substantially great in thyself, and more than thou
appearest unto others; and let the world be deceived
in thee, as they are in the lights of heaven. Hang early
plummets upon the heels of pride, and let ambition
have but an epicycle<19> or narrow circuit in thee.
Measure not thyself by thy morning shadow, but by
the extent of thy grave; and reckon thyself above
the earth, by the line thou must be contented with
under it. Spread not into boundless expansions either
to designs or desires. Think not that mankind liveth
but for a few; and that the rest are born but to serve
the ambition of those who make but flies of men, and
wildernesses of whole nations. Swell not into vehement
actions, which embroil and confound the earth, but be
one of those violent ones that force the kingdom of
heaven.# If thou must needs rule, be Zeno's king, and
enjoy that empire which every man gives himself:
certainly the iterated injunctions of Christ unto humility,
meekness, patience, and that despised train of virtues,
cannot but make pathetical impression upon those
who have well considered the affairs of all ages;
wherein pride, ambition, and vain-glory, have led

* Even when the days are shortest.
+ Alluding to the tower of oblivion, mentioned by Pro-
copius, which was the name of a tower of imprisonment among
the Persians; whoever was put therein was as it were buried
alive, and it was death for any but to name him.
# St Matt. xi.

up to the worst of actions, whereunto confusions,
tragedies, and acts, denying all religion, do owe their

Rest not in an ovation,* but a triumph over thy
passions. Chain up the unruly legion of thy breast;
behold thy trophies within thee, not without thee.
Lead thine own captivity captive, and be Caesar unto

Give no quarter unto those vices that are of thine
inward family, and, having a root in thy temper, plead
a right and propriety in thee. Examine well thy com-
plexional inclinations. Rain early batteries against
those strongholds built upon the rock of nature, and
make this a great part of the militia of thy life. The
politic nature of vice must be opposed by policy, and
therefore wiser honesties project and plot against sin;
wherein notwithstanding we are not to rest in generals,
or the trite stratagems of art; that may succeed with
one temper, which may prove successless with another.
There is no community or commonwealth of virtue,
every man must study his own economy and erect
these rules unto the figure of himself.

Lastly, if length of days be thy portion, make it not
thy expectation. Reckon not upon long life; but live
always beyond thy account. He that so often sur-
viveth his expectation lives many lives, and will scarce
complain of the shortness of his days. Time past is
gone like a shadow; make times to come present; con-
ceive that near which may be far off. Approximate
thy latter times by present apprehensions of them: be
like a neighbour unto death, and think there is but
little to come. And since there is something in us that
must still live on, join both lives together, unite them

* Ovation, a petty and minor kind of triumph.

in thy thoughts and actions, and live in one but for the
other. He who thus ordereth the purposes of this life,
will never be far from the next, and is in some manner
already in it, by a happy conformity and close appre-
hension of it.


1. It was a proverb, "Ubi tres medici duo athei."
2. A Latinised word meaning a taunt (impropero.)
3. The synod of Dort was held in 1619 to discuss the doctrines of
Arminius. It ended by condemning them.
4. Hallam, commenting on this passage, says--"That Jesuit must be a
disgrace to his order who would have asked more than such a con-
cession to secure a proselyte--the right of interpreting whatever
was written, and of supplying whatever was not"--Hist. Eng-
, vol. ii. p. 74.
5. See the statute of the Six Articles (31 Hen. VIII. c. 14), which de-
clared that transubstantiation, communion in one kind, celibacy
of the clergy, vows of widowhood, private masses, and auricular
confession, were part of the law of England.
6. In the year 1606, when the Jesuits were expelled from Venice, Pope
Paul V. threatened to excommunicate that republic. A most
violent quarrel ensued, which was ultimately settled by the media-
tion of France.
7. Alluding to the story of OEdipus solving the riddle proposed by the
8. The nymph Arethusa was changed by Diana into a fountain, and
was said to have flowed under the sea from Elis to the fountain of
Arethusa near Syracuse.--Ov. Met. lib. v. fab. 8.
9. These heretics denied the immortality of the soul, but held that it
was recalled to life with the body. Origen came from Egypt to
confute them, and is said to have succeeded. (See Mosh. Eccl.
, lib. i. c. 5. sec. 16.) Pope John XXII. afterwards
adopted it.
10. A division from the Greek [Greek omitted].
11. The brain.
12. A faint resemblance, from the Latin adumbro, to shade.
13. Alluding to the idea Sir T. Browne often expresses, that an oracle
was the utterance of the devil.
14. To fathom, from Latin profundis.
15. Beginning from the Latin efficio.
16. Galen's great work.
17. John de Monte Regio made a wooden eagle that, when the emperor
was entering Nuremburg, flew to meet him, and hovered over his
head. He also made an iron fly that, when at dinner, he was
able to make start from under his hand, and fly round the table.
--See De Bartas, 6me jour 1me semaine.
18. Hidden, from the Greek [Greek omitted].
19. A military term for a small mine.
20. The Armada.
21. The practice of drawing lots.
22. An account.
23. See Il. VIII. 18--

"Let down our golden everlasting chain,
Whose strong embrace holds heaven, and earth, and main."
--Pope, Il. viii. 26.

24. An argument where one proposition is accumulated upon another,
from the Greek [Greek omitted], a heap.
25. Alluding to the second triumvirate--that of Augustus, Antony, and
Lepidus. Florus says of it, "Respublica convulsa est lacerataque."
26. Ochinus. He was first a monk, then a doctor, then a Capuchin friar,
then a Protestant: in 1547 he came to England, and was very
active in the Reformation. He was afterwards made Canon of
Canterbury. The Socinians claim him as one of their sect.
27. The father of Pantagruel. His adventures are given in the first book
of Rabelais, Sir Bevys of Hampton, a metrical romance, relating
the adventures of Sir Bevys with the saracens.--Wright and
Halliwell's Reliquiae Antiquae, ii. 59.
28. Contradictions between two laws.
29. On his arrival at Paris, Pantagruel visited the library of St. Victor:
he states a list of the works he found there, among which was
"Tartaretus." Pierre Tartaret was a French doctor who disputed
with Duns Scotus. His works were republished at Lyons, 1621.
30. Deucalion was king of Thessaly at the time of the deluge. He and
his wife Pyrrha, with the advice of the oracle of Themis, repeopled
the earth by throwing behind them the bones of their grand-
mother,--i.e., stones of the earth.--See Ovid, Met. lib. i.
fab. 7.
31. St. Augustine (De Civ. Dei, xvi. 7).
32. [Greek omitted] (St. Matt. xxvii. 5) means death by choking. Erasmus
translates it, "abiens laqueo se suspendit."
33. Burnt by order of the Caliph Omar, A.D. 640. It contained 700,000
volumes, which served the city for fuel instead of wood for six months.
34. Enoch being informed by Adam the world was to be drowned and
burnt, made two pillars, one of stone to withstand the water, and
one of brick to withstand the fire, and inscribed upon them all
known knowledge.--See Josephus, Ant. Jud.
35. A Franciscan friar, counsellor to the Inquisition, who visited the
principal libraries in Spain to make a catalogue of the books op-
posed to the Romish religion. His "index novus librorum pro-
hibitorum" was published at Seville in 1631.
36. Printing, gunpowder, clocks.
37. The Targums and the various Talmuds.
38. Pagans, Mahometans, Jews, Christians.
39. Valour, and death in battle.
40. Held 1414-1418.
41. Vergilius, bishop of Salzburg, having asserted the existence of
Antipodes, the Archbishop of Metz declared him to be a heretic,
and caused him to be burnt.
42. On searching on Mount Calvary for the true cross, the empress
found three. As she was uncertain which was the right one, she
caused them to be applied to the body of a dead man, and the
one that restored him to life was determined to be the true cross.
43. The critical time in human life.
44. Oracles were said to have ceased when Christ came, the reply to
Augustus on the subject being the last--

"Me puer Hebraeus divos Deus ipse gubernans
Cedere sede jubet tristemque redire sub Orcum
Aris ergo de hinc tacitus discedito nostris."

45. An historian who wrote "De Rebus Indicis." He is cited by Pliny,
Strabo, and Josephus.
46. Alluding to the popular superstition that infant children were carried
off by fairies, and others left in their places.
47. Who is said to have lived without meat, on the smell of a rose.
48. "Essentiae rationalis immortalis."
49. St. Augustine, De Civ. Dei, lib. x., cc. 9, 19, 32.
50. That which includes everything is opposed to nullity.
51. An inversion of the parts of an antithesis.
52. St. Augustine--"Homily on Genesis."
53. Sir T. Browne wrote a dialogue between two twins in the womb
respecting the world into which they were going!
54. Refinement.
55. Constitution another form of temperament.
56. The Jewish computation for fifty years.
57. Saturn revolves once in thirty years.
58. Christian IV., of Denmark, who reigned from 1588-1647.
59. AEson was the father of Jason. By bathing in a bath prepared for him
by Medaea with some magic spells, he became young again. Ovid
describes the bath and its ingredients, Met., lib. vii. fab. 2.
60. Alluding to the rabbinical tradition that the world would last for
6000 years, attributed to Elias, and cited in the Talmud.
61. Zeno was the founder of the Stoics.
62. Referring to a passage in Suetonius, Vit. J. Caesar, sec 87:--
"Aspernatus tam lentum mortis genus subitam sibi celeremque optaverat."
63. In holding

"Mors ultima poena est,
Nec metuenda viris."

64. The period when the moon is in conjunction and obscured by the sun.
65. One of the judges of hell.
66. To select some great man for our ideal, and always to act as if he
was present with us. See Seneca, lib. i. Ep. 11.
67. Sir T. Browne seems to have made various experiments in this
subject. D'Israeli refers to it in his "Curiosities of Literature."
Dr Power, a friend of Sir T. Browne, with whom he corresponded,
fives a receipt for the process.
68. The celebrated Greek philosopher who taught that the sun was a
mass of heated stone, and various other astronomical doctrines.
Some critics say Anaxarchus is meant here.
69. See Milton's "Paradise Lost," lib. I. 254--

"The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven."

And also Lucretius--

"Hic Acherusia fit stultorum denique vita."--iii. 1023.

70. Keck says here--"So did they all, as Lactantius has observed at
large. Aristotle is said to have been guilty of great vanity in
his clothes, of incontinency, and of unfaithfulness to his master,
Alexander II."
71. Phalaris, king of Agrigentum, who, when Perillus made a brazen
bull in which to kill criminals, placed him in it to try its effects.
72. Their maxim was

"Nihil sciri siquis putat id quoque nescit,
An sciri possit quod se nil scire fatetur."

73. Pope Alexander III., in his declaration to the Doge, said,--"Que
la mer vous soit soumise comme l'epouse l'est a son epoux
puisque vous in avez acquis l'empire par la victorie." In com-
memoration of this the Doge and Senate went yearly to Lio, and
throwing a ring into the water, claimed the sea as their bride.
74. Appolonius Thyaneus, who threw a large quantity of gold into the
sea, saying, "Pessundo divitias ne pessundare ab illis."
75. The technical term in fencing for a hit--

"A sweet touch, a quick venew of wit."
Love's Labour Lost, act v. sc. 1.

76. Strabo compared the configuration of the world, as then known, to
a cloak or mantle (chlamys).
77. Atomists or familists were a Puritanical sect who appeared about 1575,
founded by Henry Nicholas, a Dutchman. They considered that the
doctrine of revelation was an allegory, and believed that they had
attained to spiritual perfection.--See Neal's Hist. of Puritans, 1. 273.
78. From the 126th psalm St Augustine contends that Solomon is
damned. See also Lyra in 2 Kings vii.
79. From the Spanish "Dorado," a gilt head.
80. Sir T. Browne treats of chiromancy, or the art of telling fortunes by
means of lines in the hands, in his "Vulgar Errors," lib. v. cap. 23.
81. Gypsies.
82. S. Wilkin says that here this word means niggardly.
83. In the dialogue, "judicium vocalium," the vowels are the judges,
and [Greek Sigma omitted] complains that T has deprived him of many letters that
ought to begin with [Greek Sigma omitted].
84. If Jovis or Jupitris.
85. The celebrated Roman grammarian. A proverbial phrase for the
violation of grammar was "Breaking Priscian's head."
86. Livy says, Actius Nevius cut a whetstone through with a razor.
87. A kind of lizard that was supposed to kill all it looked at--

"Whose baneful eye
Wounds at a glance, so that the soundest dye."
--De Bartas, 6me jour 1me sem.

88. Epimenides (Titus x. 12)--

[Greek omitted]

89. Nero having heard a person say, "When I am dead, let earth be
mingled with fire," replied, "Yes, while I live."--Suetonius,
Vit. Nero.
90. Alluding to the story of the Italian, who, having been provoked by
a person he met, put a poniard to his heart, and threatened to
kill him if he would not blaspheme God; and the stranger doing
so, the Italian killed him at once, that he might be damned, hav-
ing no time to repent.
91. A rapier or small sword.
92. The battle here referred to was the one between Don John of
Austria and the Turkish fleet, near Lepanto, in 1571. The battle
of Lepanto (that is, the capture of the town by the Turks) did not
take place till 1678.
93. Several authors say that Aristotle died of grief because he could
not find out the reason for the ebb and flow of the tide in Epirus.
94. Who deny that there is such a thing as science.
95. A motto on a ring or cup. In an old will, 1655, there is this
passage: "I give a cup of silver gilt to have this posy written in
the margin:--

"When the drink is out, and the bottom you may see,
Remember your brother I. G."

96. The opposition of a contrary quality, by which the quality it opposes
becomes heightened.
97. Adam as he was created and not born.
98. Meaning a world, as Atlas supported the world on his shoulders.
99. Merriment. Johnson says that this is the only place where the
word is found.
100. Said to be a cure for madness.
101. Patched garments.
102. A game. A kind of capping verses, in which, if any one repeated
what had been said before, he paid a forfeit.



1. Just.
2. Destruction.
3. A chemical vessel made of earth, ashes, or burnt bones, and in
which assay-masters try their metals. It suffers all baser ones
when fused and mixed with lead to pass off, and retains only
gold and silver.
4. This substance known to French chemists by the name "adipo-cire,"
was first discovered by Sir Thomas Browne.
5. From its thickness.
6. Euripides.
7. Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Egyptian, Arabic defaced by the Emperor Licinius.



1. Will not survive until next spring.
2. Wasting.
3. An eminent Italian Physician, lecturer in the University of Pavia,
died 1576. He was a most voluminous medical writer.
4. An eminent doctor and scholar who passed his time at Venice and
Padua studying and practising medicine, died 1568.
5. Charles V. was born 24th February, 1500.
6. Francis I. of France was taken prisoner at the battle of Pavia, 24th
February, 1525.
7. One of the greatest Protestant generals of the seventeenth century.
He died at Zara, 1626.
8. An inflation, or swelling, from the French bouffee*.
9. August 20th, 1526. He was defeated by Solyman II., and suffocated
in a brook, by a fall from his horse, during the retreat.
10. The caul.
11. Money-seeking.
12. Cacus stole some of Hercules' oxen, and drew them into his cave
backward to prevent any traces being discovered. Ovid Fast, 1. 554.
13. Narrow, like walking on a rope.
14. A Greek philosophical writer. This [Greek omitted] is a representation
of a table where the whole human life with its dangers and temptations
is symbolically represented.
15. Picture.
16. The course taken by the Spanish Treasure ships. See Anson Voyages.
17. A recommencement.

"Dulcique senex vicinus Hymetto
Qui partem acceptae sava inter vincia cicutae
Accusatori nollet dare,"--Juv. Sat. xiii. 185.

19. A small revolution made by one planet in the orbit of another.

End of Religio Medici, Hydriotaphia, and the Letter to a Friend

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